March 4, 2010

Shocking, Indeed

Dear James,

I picked up your letter, sir, because I remembered you having mentioned something about holding one's tongue and a brief introductory bit of encouragement to get through trials. This morning, however, your first three paragraphs gave me quite a shock.

Must you say "trials of various kinds" (James 1:2-4)? I can imagine stealthily paddling a river boat through a closed country in Southeast Asia, smuggling a Bibles that have covers made to resemble some nationalist propaganda, getting bitten by a mosquito, and counting that itchy spot joy for the sake of the gospel. It's quite another story when you insist I consider my husband's lack of full-time work hours, my uncle's pancreatitis, and the daily bout with dishes and laundry... joy. When I am expecting, I routinely lose my breakfast, lunch, and supper and most of the water I drink for four months, then lose just my breakfast for another four. (I don't expect you to understand this, obviously never having been in that condition yourself). I assure you, it is most uncomfortable. Am I to consider this joy as well? You say that this testing of my faith brings steadfastness (James 1:3-4). I am accustomed to spending more time thinking about the trials themselves and less time thinking of what those trials could produce in my faith.

You recommend asking God for wisdom, if I lack it (James 1:5-8). Alright, I concede. I do lack it. However, in the past, I have found it most expedient to first ask my friends at sewing group and my husband. Their answers are prompt, and require less searching the Word and waiting than His. This will require quite a change of habit.

Your third paragraph was a bit easier to digest, "Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich..." (James 1:9-11). Of courseI read this from the perspective of a "lowly brother", or at least, a "middle-class brother". We live in two bedroom, 1,000 square foot home, certainly not in the best neighborhood. I only occasionally shop for clothes, and then only at second-hand stores. I am not at all discontent with being...
Oh! Please excuse me. I've just looked up some statistics that rather change my view. Apparently, in our current situation, my family is more wealthy than most of the families in Estonia, Czech Republic, Poland, Lithuania, India, Japan, Denmark, Mozambique, South Africa, and approximately 200 other countries. From this, I assume you would consider me one of the rich (James 1:11)? As I read on, I will try to read with this understanding, then.

Your letter is well worth reading, in spite of your affront to my pride. However, I think three paragraphs at a time is enough to set me reeling.

Sincerely Yours

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